Much as we might enjoy being at work, how many of us can honestly say we’d want to do it in our spare time too? Step forward Jed Watson, duty manager at the Factory Skatepark in Dundee. By his own admission the 23 year old practically eats, lives and breathes skateboarding, and rather than heading off home or out on the town when his shift is over, he heads to the ramps with his own skateboard for a few hours.
“I first got into the sport when I was around 10 years old. My older brother would skate in the garden learning tricks and after watching him I wanted to start as well,” says Jed, who worked in voluntary sports coaching before starting at the Factory five months ago.
“What I love most about skateboarding is that there aren’t any rules, or you aren’t competing against other teams like most popular sports,” he continues. “It’s a battle within yourself to see how you can progress. And nothing compares to the feeling of finally landing a trick you’ve spent weeks trying.”
His job means he meets like-minded people with a common interest in skating – whether on a board, blades, BMX or a stunt scooter – on a daily basis.
“What makes skateboarding so popular is how creative it allows you to be,” he muses. “There’re so many different tricks and styles of skateboarding and so many different things you can skate – I think that appeals to folk.”
Serious skateboarders can spend a lot of money getting the right deck (the board itself), trucks (which connect the wheels and bearings to the deck), and wheels.
“I own one complete skateboard and have enough spare parts to build another one if I needed to,” says Jed. “Skateboarding can be considered expensive so I try to get as much use out of my board as I can skating it until it’s worn down and needs replaced.
Although Jed has mastered hundreds of tricks including a 360 flip, frontside flip, nose grind (the skateboard’s front truck grinds a rail or edge, while the back truck is suspended over the rail/edge), nose slide (slide with the nose of the skateboard on the edge), backside heel flip and laser flip (a difficult flip trick), he’s constantly practising stunts on the big ramps at the Factory.
“I have hurt myself quite a lot over the years but nothing serious, just scrapes and bruises – nothing that has kept me off my board for more than a day or two,” he says.
“It definitely keeps me fit. It’s an exhausting sport that requires a lot of energy and effort,” he adds.
When Jed was younger, his ambition was to get sponsored. “I’m pretty sure that’s everyone’s dream when they first start but the more I skated, the more I realised I wasn’t concerned about accomplishing goals – I was just happy to be skateboarding.”